Seller beware: Classic car stolen during test drive

Jeff Metts says a man stole this 1987 Olds 442 while taking it for a test drive Saturday in Summerville.

The most frequently stolen cars are the most run-of-the-mill: newer models chopped up for parts or old clunkers used as disposable transportation.

So Jeff Metts was surprised when someone took off last weekend in the rare 1980s muscle car he was trying to sell.

During a test drive Saturday night, he got out of the driver's seat at a gas station to switch places with the prospective buyer. As Metts walked around to the passenger side, the man in his late 20s or early 30s locked the doors and sped off.

"He was gone, wheels spinning," Metts said.

The car was a 1987 Oldsmobile 442. Just over 4,000 of these high-performance models were made, built on the same platform as the more sedate Cutlass Supreme. Only about 1,100 of them had the factory T-tops like Metts' car.

"I know somebody has seen that car because there's not another one on the road like it," he said.

Summerville police are investigating. Capt. Jon Rogers, an investigator with the department, said he has not observed any recent trend of thefts involving rare or antique cars.

A report describes the suspect as a black man, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 150 pounds. He arrived with a friend of a similar age and build in a white Honda Accord that appeared to be about six years old.

Metts said the man first contacted him about a month ago, saying he was from Florida and planned to stop by when he visited his father in Georgetown. He called back July 25 and agreed to stop by the next morning.

The buyer didn't show at the set time and called back in the afternoon. He said he was headed down from Florence and would be back in touch when he got closer. He phoned again a little after 8 p.m.

The other man had stayed in the Honda during the test drive but left at some point.

Metts was the car's first owner and was asking $10,000 for it.

Metts said he wasn't on his guard because he had some experience selling cars in a similar way with no problems. In the future, he'll ask to see a driver's license and won't show a car at night. In hindsight, he said, it should have been a red flag that the man always called from blocked phone numbers.

The Oldsmobile has a two-tone paint job, black on top and silver on the bottom with gold pin stripes.